Zim lay hope in T-20 lottery

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Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have played fewer Twenty20s than Ireland at the international level. Both teams have had to rely on the World Twenty20 (T20) for exposure in this format and even now the two-match series will largely be a chance to fine-tune things before the next one in March 2016.

Largely, because Zimbabwe having lost the one-day international series (ODIs) 0-3 to Bangladesh, they will want to set a few records straight. They had begun with promise, beating a strong BCB XI in a practice match, but have gone cold since, with the batting found wanting. The bowlers have done well to keep Bangladesh between 240 to 270, which means they can be expected to do a similar job in the T20s. So unless the top seven smarten up, Zimbabwe might be going back home winless.

The hosts have their own concerns as well. In addition to inexperience at the international stage, Bangladesh haven’t played a domestic T20 tournament since the end of 2013, which could point to their relative discomfort in the format. So they might just try borrowing what works for them in the ODIs, from tactics to personnel. There is every chance of Bangladesh sticking to their 50-over specialists, see how they work in this series and get ready for the World T20 later in India.

As a result of how the two teams shape up, the first T20 is likely to be a tighter affair than any of the ODIs over the past week. It’s the weekend, so a bonanza crowd will also be expected in Mirpur.

Mustafizur Rahman was outstanding on Wednesday evening, taking five Zimbabwe wickets with a variety of deliveries. In
the T20 format too, he can be expected to bring his bag of tricks to keep the visiting batsmen guessing.

Legspinner Graeme Cremer has been Zimbabwe’s most successful bowler in T20s this year, with nine wickets at an average of 18.55. The condensed nature of the format seems to work for him and he will once again be expected to take control of the middle overs against Bangladesh.

Zimbabwe’s Malcolm Waller, second right, celebrates with teammates the wicket of Bangladesh's Mushfiqur Rahim during the third one-day international cricket match in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)
Zimbabwe’s Malcolm Waller, second right, celebrates with teammates the wicket of Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim during the third one-day international cricket match in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Bangladesh could go into the game with an extra batsman, Anamul Haque, or prefer any or both of legspinner Jubair Hossain and pace bowler Kamrul Islam Rabbi to give the bowling attack more cushion. But it won’t be the greatest surprise if they play the same XI that played the second and third ODIs.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Liton Das, 4 Mahmudullah, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Sabbir Rahman, 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Arafat Sunny, 10 Al-Amin Hossain, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Zimbabwe could include Tinotenda Mutombodzi as an all-round option. Or they could give a game to Tendai Chisoro, Wellington Masakadza, John Nyumbu or Neville Madziva; none of them have played so far on this tour.

Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Chamu Chibhabha, 2 Regis Chakabva (wk), 3 Craig Ervine, 4 Sean Williams, 5 Sikandar Raza, 6 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 7 Malcolm Waller, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Tinashe Panyangara, 10 Luke Jongwe, 11 Taurai Muzarabani

The team batting first has won 11 out of the 21 games at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, but it is hard to predict a winning score. The average first-innings total though is 155. Dew will be the same for both teams so batting first should be the preferred call at the toss. — online

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